Michigan lost to Michigan State in gut-wrenching fashion 37-33 in East Lansing. Here are takeaways from the game, one in which drops Michigan to 7-1 and bolsters the Spartans to 8-0.
Kenneth Walker couldn’t be stopped
Walker has been the best running back in college football, and he proved that against Michigan. The Michigan D undoubtedly prepared for Walker all week, but he was the best player on the field nonetheless. Walker had 197 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns. This was demoralizing for Michigan and was a major contributor in the defeat.
Moody is money again
Where would Michigan be this season without kicker Jake Moody, someone who answers the call time and time again. And Michigan sure needed him once more against Michigan State. Michigan’s drives stalled far too often and they had to settle for field goal attempts. This is one of the contributing factors that did them in. Hats off to Moody going 4-for-4, but the fact he had 4 attempts is a problem.
J.J. comes up big, and has a big turnover
J.J. McCarthy had an excellent 23-yard touchdown pass to Andrel Anthony. It showed the killer instinct he has, a player who hasn’t settled for less when he’s been on the field and allowed to throw the football. However, McCarthy did major damage to Michigan’s chances of winning. He fumbled the ball twice, on two consecutive drives, one of which resulted in a turnoved that led to Michigan State taking the lead late in the 4th.
J.J. McCarthy seems to be immensely talented, but he’s not ready for primetime just yet and needs plenty more time on task. Paradoxically enough Michigan should probably turn to McCarthy more in upcoming games, as I believe we’ve seen how far Cade McNamara can take Michigan.
We’ve seen McNamara’s ceiling
Cade McNamara is a good college quarterback — he’s smart, gets his team in the right checks, but his limitations are fairly obvious at this point. McNamara’s deep ball accuracy has been criticized, and some of it has been fair, some of it not — but the bottom line is drives in which McNamara engineered often end in field goals instead of touchdowns. McNamara settles for the easy check-down too often, and his accuracy over twenty yards down the field is less than ideal. Granted, Michigan’s defense didn’t do McNamara or the Michigan offense any favors today, but with much given comes much tested and McNamara came up short. McNamara was 28-of-44 for 383 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception — but 93 of those yards came on a touchdown pass to Andrel Anthony.
The way in which McNamara and Michigan’s offense operated the last four minutes lacked a sense of urgency overall, and the clock ultimately didn’t wind up being in their favor despite two possessions those last five minutes of the game. They ran out of chances when McNamara was picked off with a minute left.
McNamara and Michigan had more than enough chances to win this one, and they just couldn’t get it done. We are eight games into the season, and this is who Cade McNamara is for better and worse. He’s not going to lead an aerial assault and really put an offense on his shoulders late in a ball game. Inconsistency will remain.
Michigan’s running game gets neutralized
I’m going to leave you with a Joel Klatt quote about what might happen if Michigan’s running game gets neutralized.
“That’s a huge question mark, because going down the back end of this season — going against Michigan State next week or Penn State or Ohio State, a number of these games. What they’re gonna have to do is throw the football. Somebody’s gonna take away their ability to run the ball, similar to what Wisconsin did. Now, the commitment to it will help, because you can get to play action pass. But at some point, they’re gonna have to make plays in the passing game.”
Not enough were made down the stretch in this one no matter how you slice it and dice it or skew the stats to fit a certain narrative.